Bounds Green Tube Station to be protected after Liberal Democrat campaign

Success as Bounds Green Tube gets listed after Lib Dem campaignBounds Green Tube Station has been designated a Grade II listed building by the Government, as the result of a two-year campaign by Liberal Democrats and local residents.

In July 2008, Cllr John Oakes wrote to English Heritage, requesting that Bounds Green Tube Station be put forward for listing by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport , in order to protect the much-loved local landmark.

Cllr  Oakes, Liberal Democrat councillor for Bounds Green, comments:

“I have long admired our tube station, and the way its Art Deco style makes it an ornament and a focus for the area’s residents.

“After a tour with local MP Lynne Featherstone, to examine its excellent restoration by Transport for London, I was surprised to find that it had not been listed in the same way as Turnpike Lane and Arnos Grove, two other stations dating from 1932/3 and influenced by the legendary architect Charles Holden.

“So I asked the Bounds Green and District Residents’ Association and the Hornsey Historical Society if they would support my application, which they kindly did.

“I am delighted to say that the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport has now recognised  Bounds Green Tube as an historical gem and a very worthy addition to Haringey’s protected buildings by giving it a Grade ll listing.  This effectively limits any changes or extensions, so that its clean lines can be  enjoyed by many future generations.

“The Minister echoed my application, by drawing attention to the station’s ‘special architectural interest…which responds appropriately to its suburban setting, while boldly announcing its presence.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, adds:

“Well done to all those residents who helped this wonderful campaign, to ensure a key piece of Bounds Green history is preserved.”

Diwali celebrated at Woodside House

Local Liberal Democrats attended the 14th Annual ‘I Can Care’ Diwali celebrations last Friday (9th October 2009) at Woodside House and vowed to continue their support for the charity.

Last year Labour-run Haringey Council planned to force ‘I Can Care’, a charity that gives welfare advice and provides computer, yoga and English classes for elderly Asian residents, to relocate in a £12million project to build a new Council chamber.

After a sustained campaign by local residents and Liberal Democrats, Haringey Council was forced to shelve plans and postpone the project.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, comments:

“I am so glad that we are able to be here, joining ‘I Can Care’ in their fourteenth Diwali celebration, twelve months on from Haringey Council’s welcome u-turn.

“Thank you to Raj and all who continue to provide this invaluable community lead service for elderly Asian women in the local area.”

Cllr John Oakes, Bounds Green, adds:

“It is about time that Haringey Council made up its mind on the future of Woodside House and ‘I Can Care’. It is unfair that, at a time of the Festival of Lights, we are still kept in the dark on the future of ‘I Can Care’.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“We will continue to fight to ensure this marvellous community group has the right support and facilities, so it continues to be a success for its members.”

Summer Uni at Muswell Hill Youth Centre

Well – what a treat! Went to visit the Summer Uni at Muswell Hill Youth Centre. This youth club was for so long neglected by Haringey Council and closed most nights – but now thanks to work of local councillor LibDem Gail Engert and others it is not only open six nights a week but thriving. As you can see from the picture I had a good go at the ‘decks’ but am not giving up my day job in a rush. The boxing, the gym, the hairdressing and the cooking – all terrific fun and a great way to add real skills for future employment.

In the other picture you can see Akim – who manages the whole thing, and Seema Chandwani Deputy Head of Youth Service at Haringey Council who enthusiastically supports the scheme from the Council – together with Adam Jogee (UK Youth Parliament), and LibDem Councillors John Oakes and Gail Engert – and me!

Preserving Bounds Green station

Bounds Green tube station was opened on 19th September 1932 and was designed by architect C. H. James in the “Box-style” of his colleague Charles Holden. The station is a well-preserved example of the modernist house style used by London Transport in the 1930s (and credit to London Transport in its various incarnations over the years to have kept these features well-preserved).

In other words – it’s a great piece of our architectural heritage which deserve protecting.

John Oakes is one of the Bounds Green councillors and puts it well:

“Bounds Green station is a beautiful example of the art-deco design style of the 1930s adopted by London Transport. It has cheerfully decorated the Bounds Green landscape for well for over seventy years and I believe it deserves listed status due to its iconic character. I hope English Heritage agrees with me and that we can take the listing process forward.”

John has therefore written to English Heritage asking them to give the station listed building status. Fingers crossed!

What does an MP do when they are not in Parliament?

Sometimes people think that being in Parliament was the only part of being an MP. I wish – the job would be much easier if that was all there is to it!

So as an example – this is what Friday was like for me. Started with a few hours of surgery (residents coming to meet me face-to-face to raise issues) – with at least four people bursting into tears. No – not ‘cos I am mean to them – but because I am sympathetic – and so many of those who come to me at surgery have been through so much with nobody listening. And when someone sits you down and says now what’s wrong and how can I help – it is obviously a release. I may not always be able to solve the problem – but I do listen properly. It’s pretty dreadful when the first person who will listen non-judgementally is your MP! And it is very, very emotionally draining.

Next port of call – to see the finished works at Bounds Green station. Cllr John Oakes, my local Lib Dem colleague and councillor for the ward was also in attendance. I went to see the works in progress some while back – hundreds of fluorescent orange jackets deep underground, dozens of different trades busying away at 2am. They have very limited time to work – so literally an anthill of activity.

Today I am met by Mike Challis, who is the General Manager of the Piccadilly line. The station really does look marvellous. And the very beautiful lights at the bottom of the escalators now look splendid in their setting. So much better!

The only flaw was the backing to the posters you stare at inanely whilst you are going up and down the escalators. This area wasn’t renewed (they can’t do everything – too much money) but it was a shame as they detracted a bit from the rest of the work that made the station look so much better.

Lynne Featherstone with Alzheimer's Society, Wood GreenThen back to Wood Green to support the Alzheimer’s Society day of protest about the appalling way those with dementia or caring for those with the dementia are treated compared to other illnesses. It is that they are charged for help with washing, eating and using the toilet. One in three people over 65 are affected. And it could be you!

The cost is heavy. The quality of care often poor. Dementia sufferers are hardest hit by such costs as they need so much care over so many years. And the means test for what help there is penalises those who have saved a little bit for their old age with the threshold at £21,000.

The Government is to launch a consultation in 2009 and what the Alzheimer’s Society is saying is that for dementia they need a funding system that is fair, sustainable, transparent, simple to understand and will deliver good quality care. The solution the Government eventually puts forward must meet the needs of people with dementia – not just the convenience of the Government.

Then on to the FAITH Plant Centre which is in Wolves Lane right on the edge of my constituency boundary with Tottenham. Cllr Richard Wilson, my Lib Dem colleague and spokesperson for Social Services and Health in Haringey, was there too.

Lynne Featherstone at the FAITH garden centre, with protestorsHere they have the most remarkable jungle area, desert area and rain forest area – as well as a garden centre – and also training and work for volunteers with a variety of disabilities.

About 50 volunteers come here to train and work in horticulture. This perfectly fits the bill of helping people to find routes to occupations for those who simply cannot work in the normal way. Additionally – local children come here to experience the different climate areas, to learn about some of the creatures that live in them too.

The problems are thus. This wonderful scheme has been funded through a national charity, Livability, to the tune of roughly £300,000 a year. It will end its funding at the end of August, because they say they can’t afford to continue this any more without support from Haringey Council and others.

This would end all the educational work with primary schools, all the work with adults with learning disabilities and force the place to close unless Haringey Council steps in to find other sources of funding.

The site is owned by Haringey Parks (it’s their old nursery) who give it rent free to the organisation that run it. The (only) funding Haringey Council gives is for the three staff who run the cafe (a council funded project that was moved to the centre when it had to leave its previous location), and they pay for the plants that are grown there for the parks. But Haringey Council do not pay towards the maintenance of the site. In addition to the funding needed to keep the service open, it is in need of investment – it needs £300,000 to replace the electrics very soon.

A lot of volunteers, their families and local users of the centre turned up to tell me how much the centre means to them. To most of the volunteers closure will result in the end of their outside independence. Many of the volunteers will simply be left to vegetate at home if the scheme closes – so it’s battle stations for a really worthwhile cause. Watch this space!

Whoosh back to get to Greig City Academy to meet with the students and staff who tell me what they plan to do as part of the B & Q @One Planet Living Award scheme. Greig has been awarded £2,400 based on a natural pond they have created. They will use it to establish plants and to purchase special tools to construct and maintain the area. Two B & Q staff came for the photo op – and together with four students there are now photos in existence of me and them in wellies in the middle of the pond. It’s not dull – being the MP! Well done Greig and B & Q for the scheme itself.

Lynne Featherstone at Highgate SchoolThen off to to Highgate School for two very good reasons. Meet the science teachers and the four boys who have won the 2008 Top of the Bench competition. Twice before they have got close – but this time they have done it. It is a wonderful tribute to the science teaching at Highgate and to celebrate I have tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to congratulate them!

But the main event I am at Highgate School for is to launch the Chrysallis Partnership. Basically Highgate School is using its very best skills to advantage all the bright children from other schools in Haringey and Camden. This part is about offering subject-specific teaching to bright pupils and about offering specialist advice and assistance in applying to top universities.

I think this is fantastic. For far too long Highgate School has been regarded as separate from the community of schools in Haringey. What I saw was the beginning of a reaching out and bringing all our schools together to develop and use skills to help all our children. I think there is a passion and a hunger there which will spread benefits widely.

And – as the Head himself said – the ultra bright pupils who are coming from other schools are teaching the Highgate pupils a thing or two themselves. Adam hopes in years to come to extend the scheme so all the schools can offer any specialist skill they may have to pupils from the other schools – not just Highgate. Anyway – too much to put in a blog posting!

Celebrating Christmas across the faiths

Off to Queen’s Road Residents’ Association Christmas Social. This is an A-grade residents’ association which has created not only a truly active body that operates to protect and improve the area – but also a real sense of community.

The two local Liberal Democrat councillors, John Oakes and Ali Demirci, were there. In fact it was John who suggested I might like to drop in.

And how pleasant it is just to go to a social occasion and have a bit of time to talk with people properly. Everyone had brought different foods to contribute – for as ever we are nothing if not diverse and integrated. Talking to one group of people – who were obviously from a variety of cultural backgrounds – what was really funny was that we all celebrate Christmas in some form. Discussing it we decided that it was because it is such a basically nice festival – in terms of family, presents, tree, decorations and food etc and comes coterminous to an extent with Diwali and Hanukah – and we all from our different backgrounds enjoy it.

And that to me is the real integration – that we are all different but can all join in, in our own ways, the same festivities. Very heartwarming!

Scouts, hospital and interns

Off to the Scout Park again for photo op with local commander Simon O’Brian and Ken Ranson (of Scouting Association), two of the Safer Neighbourhood officers from Bounds Green ward and Cllr John Oakes – local councillor. We are there to meet local photographers from local papers to push hard for funding to build replacement buildings for the ones currently not ‘fit for purpose’. They are not only not fit but actually in such a state of disrepair that they can’t be used.

I am a big fan of this project. I’ve written the strongest supporting letters I know how to do to support the lottery and heritage bids. I want it for the Scouts – but I also want this amazing eight square hectares of open space in the middle of Bounds Green (that almost nobody even knows exists) to be opened up for all the local young people.

The Scouts will obviously use what they need first – but that leaves oodles of opportunities for our local youngsters. The two Safer Neighbourhood officers are running a scheme this summer for youngsters from Bounds Green between the ages of 13 and 18 to come and do outside activities. And I would like to see a mix it up program which takes kids from all the different schools – so they are not necessarily with their peer groups – and throw them together for a week of outdoors activities. The buildings and open spaces can be hired for meetings and events. There is so much that could be made of this space.

Back to the constituency office for a management meeting. I am trying to arrange a meeting with Richard Sumray – Chair of Haringey Primary Care Trust (PCT) – to push forward the Hornsey Hospital redevelopment. With the dosh now available from the government there is a possible opportunity of forcing the pace.

The hospital closed despite a massive local campaign – and the deal with the campaigners was that it would be redeveloped as a local community health facility with respite care beds etc. etc. It must be something like four or so years since we have been meeting about its future with the PCT – but nothing concrete (literally) yet.

I have decided to try and force the pace on this. The Health Trust insists it must sell off a large chunk of the land – but a) this isn’t fair and b) there is not guarantee the funds will go back into this particular site. Anyway – I spoke to Richard Sumray a couple of weeks ago and he promised me a public meeting in September. I believe Richard’s assurances that he is committed to pushing the new facility through – but I want to help him by applying as much pressure as I can. My diary organiser had phoned Richard to make the appointment but he is currently in some far flung part of the world. To be continued.

I want to know what the Council are doing about the Noel Park children’s play equipment. It made it into the press when I went over there to meet parents who are outraged that their children are facing a second summer without the promised replacement equipment. I wrote to Cllr George Meehan (Labour Leader of the Council) about it – no reply yet of course. The newspaper had a quote from the council saying they were sorry there had been a delay. But I am now going to write to Ita O’Donovan – who is the Chief Executive – as I expect she will be far more able to efficiently expedite matters than George.

Then it’s in to Parliament for the last official day of sitting – so I finish up odds and sods. I pop over with Nick Clegg (Shadow Home Secretary) for a photo op on DNA and then have dinner with my researcher and interns to thank them for their really hard work. The intern system is fantastic – hopefully for both sides. Young graduates mainly, although I have taken some school leavers and gap year students, work for expenses but get useful experience and a better of idea of what such a career might really involve – and also then get to put that they have worked for an MP on their CV. They come and go relatively quickly – but I have to say I have had some wonderful young people over the last year.

Haringey Council results

Well – it was very close! Massive Lib Dem gains, but not quite enough to take control of Haringey Council – Labour majority cut to just three (30-27 – no other parties have any councillors) with Lib Dems making 11 gains.

We also topped the vote across the borough – adding up the top votes in each ward – and actually now have councillors in a majority of the wards in Haringey. So – very close! Best every Lib Dem result, including our first councillors in Tottenham, many in Wood Green etc.

Lib Dem highlights:

Alexandra – 3 Lib Dem holds – Dave Beacham, Wayne Hoban and Susan Oatway re-elected

Bounds Green – 2 Lib Dem gains – Ali Demirci and John Oakes

Crouch End – 3 Lib Dem holds – Ron Aitken and David Winskill re-elected, joined by Lyn Weber

Fortis Green – 3 Lib Dem holds – Matt Davies and Martin Newton re-elected, joined by Sara Beynon

Harringay – 2 Lib Dem gains – Karen Alexander and Carolyn Baker

Highgate – 3 Lib Dem holds – Bob Hare and Neil Williams re-elected, joined by Justin Portess

Hornsey – 3 Lib Dem gains – Robert Gorrie, Errol Reid and Monica Whyte elected

Muswell Hill – 3 Lib Dem holds – Jonathan Bloch and Gail Engert re-elected, joined by Sheila Rainger (who has taken over my old council seat)

Noel Park – 2 Lib Dem gains – Catherine Harris and Fiyaz Mughal elected

Stroud Green – 1 Lib Dem hold and 2 Lib Dem gains – Laura Edge re-elected and Ed Butcher and Richard Wilson elected

Congratulations and commiseration to all candidates and helpers – both those who made it and those who didn’t, in all parties.

UPDATE: There are now further election result details on Haringey Council’s website.